REPEAL OF OCS DRILLING BAN PICKING UP SUPPORT Members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation have long called for lifting the ban on offshore exploration in the U.S.’s Outer Continental Shelf, particularly the nearby eastern Gulf of Mexico, but now that a presidential candidate and top federal agency have joined the push, the issue is gaining new momentum. There are actually two bans on offshore drilling along the U.S.’s east and west coasts and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico — a 1981 congressional moratorium and a 1990 executive ban signed by the first President Bush. The United States is the only country that has closed more than 80 percent of its OCS to drilling, and outdated estimates — last assessed in the late 1980s — assume there may be 18 billion barrels of untapped oil and 76 trillion cubic feet of natural gas off of U.S. coastlines.
Though Louisiana is not included in the ban, industry officials argue that the state has the infrastructure in place to support the activity and bring the oil and gas online to help alleviate rising fuel costs.
A month ago President Bush asked Congress to open up the area to drilling, and on Monday removed the executive prohibition (both bans must be lifted for any new activity to take place). Generations of Louisiana lawmakers, such as U.S. Rep. Charlie Melancon, a Napoleonville Democrat who represents portions of southern Acadiana, have filed legislation to lift the statutory ban, but have been unable to make any headway — until now. “He still supports [lifting the ban] and is hopeful,” says Robin Winchell, Melancon’s press secretary.
For his part, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, a Lafayette Republican who represents the rest of Acadiana, sent a letter to Bush Thursday, July 10, asking him to take action immediately to help lower the price of gas, if for nothing else. “The President was right to call on Congress to lift the congressional OCS exploration ban, but he must lift the executive ban now,” Boustany said in his letter. “Increasing American supplies of oil will help decrease the price at the pump squeezing families in southwest Louisiana. The President can eliminate his ban on exploration now, and Congress should follow his lead.”
In many ways, Boustany is following the lead of his party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, who has advocated increased OCS energy production to both lower prices at the pump and increase U.S. supply. When it comes to environmental concerns, McCain has said he would not support drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or other sensitive areas.
The official energy plan of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the Democrat Party’s assumed presidential nominee, does little to address the expansion of OCS drilling. Obama’s campaign planks focus instead on reducing oil consumption, retooling fuel-economy standards and creating new tax breaks.
The U.S. Minerals Management Service, the federal body that oversees federal oil-and-gas leases, has also called for a lifting of the bans with some limitations. MMS Director Randall Luthi, speaking to reporters last week on a conference call, said the new OCS areas would yield fuel for up to 15 years, during which time the country should focus more resources on alternative energy sources.
One of the more viable measures floating around Congress to lift the OCS ban is sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania and 43 other House Republicans, including Boustany. Murphy also co-signed the letter to the president penned by Boustany. Winchell said Melancon was not asked to take part in this particular push by Republicans, but he does support the intent.
VIDRINE ANNOUNCES 7TH DISTRICT CANDIDACY U.S. Constitution Party candidate Peter Vidrine launched his run for the 7th Congressional District seat last week at City Hall in Eunice. The Eunice native and owner of the technical services company Sirius Technologies is making his second bid for Congress. Because the U.S. Constitution Party isn’t recognized by the state, Vidrine’s name will appear on the Nov. 4 general election ballot without a party listed. Vidrine first ran as a Republican in 1996 in an eight-candidate field, garnering just over 5,000 votes. He has since switched over to the Constitution Party, and is promoting a moratorium on immigration, closing the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, withdrawing from the World Trade Organization and the United Nations and cutting off aid to foreign countries.
Vidrine was an early supporter of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul in the Republican presidential primary is working to build on the grassroots network that Paul established in the state.
LANDRIEU AND KENNEDY’S SECOND QUARTER HAUL Friends of Mary Landrieu announced last week that the incumbent Democratic senator raised more than $1.5 million during the second quarter of 2008 — what her re-election campaign committee claims is a state record for any U.S. senator seeking re-election.
“Sen. Landrieu’s strong fund raising shows that her support is widespread and crosses party lines,” Landrieu campaign manager Jay Howser says. “Republicans, independents and Democrats from Shreveport to Lake Charles, from Monroe to Grand Isle and everywhere in between know that Sen. Landrieu fights and wins for Louisiana.”
Landrieu’s campaign has more than $5.4 million in the bank, doubling the cash on hand of her opponent, state Treasurer John Kennedy. The Kennedy campaign countered by announcing that it bested Landrieu’s $1.5 million by raising $1.51 million in the second quarter. “We also set fund-raising records by raising the most amount of money of any Senate challenger,” says Lenny Alcivar, Kennedy’s communications director.
DEVELOPER ENTERS, THEN BAILS ON NEW IBERIA MAYOR’S RACE Colorful businessman Chris Jordan was challenging New Iberia mayor Hilda Curry in this year’s fall election. Jordan, a developer, told The Daily Iberian that he can bring rapid economic growth to the city. Known as a freewheeling entrepreneur, Jordan’s corporation, Vermilion Holdings, owns several New Iberia downtown landmarks including the Gouggenheim and Lagniappe buildings, and an impressive camp at Cypremort Point. Jordan’s frequently been vocal about property owner’s rights, often publicly challenging the city’s regulations. But only a day after articulating his intention to run, Jordan pulled the plug on his candidacy. “Unfortunately, I have other obligations in place, which I cannot abandon at this time,” he said. “I will do everything possible to assist the current mayor in helping New Iberia achieve a higher level of success for which we can all be proud.”
Contributors: Jeremy Alford, Nathan Stubbs, Leslie Turk and Mary Tutwiler
Tuesday's Blogs from the Bog!
Stoned driving a concern when pot is legal; Detroit's bankruptcy trial; speed trap scandal in Florida and more national and international news for Tuesday, September 02, 2014.
A federal jury found attorney Daniel Stanford guilty Friday afternoon on eight of 13 counts for his role in the Curious Goods conspiracy.
Lafayette City-Court Judge Francie Bouillion has served on the bench for two decades since winning a special election to replace Judge Kaliste Saloom when he retired in 1994.
The magazine's senior football writer also predicts a break-out year for Saints fourth-year running back Mark Ingram.
Gulf Coast ceremonies marking the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina have begun.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says there is little known about the effects of tiger prawns on indigenous Louisiana shrimp. But, officials say the reports they're seeking will help state biologists monitor the distribution of the prawns and determine the possible presence of spawning populations.
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh rested his regulars and watched with delight as Ray Rice's backups ground out 214 yards rushing in a 22-13 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night.
High-profile criminal defense attorney Daniel Stanford awaits his fate in the Curious Goods conspiracy trial.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is set to put the kibosh on the legal ownership of monkeys trained to help the disabled, and the agency wants to know what you think.
A federal judge on Thursday asked lawyers battling over Louisiana's new, restrictive abortion law for an agreement that apparently could let clinics stay open — at least for a while — after the law takes effect Sept. 1.
An abortion rights organization wants a federal judge to block enforcement of Louisiana's new abortion law while its lawsuit to overturn the law makes its way through court.
Republican presidential prospects Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal are planning to speak at an Iowa Christian conservative event in September.
The attention surrounding Victor White III has spiked with the release of last week’s autopsy report, which has raised a number of serious questions about the night of his death and has put the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office under an increased wave of scrutiny as more national media outlets are jumping on the story, most recently seen on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.
A group supporting taxpayer-funded private school tuition vouchers is appealing a federal judge's order that Louisiana must provide regular reports to federal officials on the state's voucher program.
The Discovery Channel has canceled reality TV star Will Hayden's popular "Sons of Guns" show after his arrest on an aggravated rape charge.
The LPSB will finally hear from the attorney it hired to investigate the superintendent at a special meeting Thursday at 4 p.m.
Authorities are investigating a report that a student there warned the principal of impending violence similar to that depicted in the movie "The Purge."
Saints cornerback Champ Bailey has played for more than a handful of playoff teams during a career that has seen him selected to 12 Pro Bowls.
Police say a 56-year-old Lafayette man walking behind a dump truck died when the truck hit him as it was backing up.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is a proud papa of new baby girl.
The books on Louisiana's last budget year have been closed, but it took a bit of borrowing from this year to make the numbers work.
The Iberia Parish Coroner responded Monday to the attention surrounding the questionable shooting of Victor White III, a black man from New Iberia who died April 2 while in the custody of local law enforcement.
Two months after lawmakers agreed to create a $40 million higher education incentive fund, no decisions have been made about how to divide the money.
With Drew Brees back healthy, the New Orleans Saints are free to work on the little things that can make the difference between a Super Bowl run and something less.